Bumbershoot Music Lounge: Vieux Farka Touré

photos by Dave Lichterman
intro by Christy Thacker

Thank God for teenage rebellion; otherwise we wouldn’t have musical prodigy Vieux Farka Touré. His famous Malian guitarist father, Ali Farka Touré thought the music world was too harsh for his son, but Vieux wouldn’t listen. He found a mentor in Toumani Diabate “the world’s greatest player of the tora” and the rest is history.

Unlike so many children of great musicians, Vieux made a name for himself right away with his unique fusion of blues and traditional Malian beats. His 2006 self-titled album turned heads as listeners received an eclectic mix of dancey rhythms and complex guitar solos (not to mention it includes the last recordings of his father). Releasing his second full album, Fondo, and signing with Six Degrees Records, Vieux is on a roll, shining his musical light around the world; even here at our very own KEXP Music Lounge.

Flying all the way from Mali, Vieux and his four-man band unpacked an array of instruments, from the traditional bass and electric guitars to a calabash (halved-gord played with sticks) and homemade shakers. In his signature black cowboy/mobster hat, the band started with the instrumental “Paradise” before transitioning into “Wale,” an obvious tribute to his ancient roots. By the third bluesy song, “Fafa,” I finally realized there were no drums. Between the constant beat of the calabash, chimes and “shoe slippers” (homemade shakers made of seed pods and worn on the feet), you wouldn’t miss the usually harsh blasts. Overall, Vieux and his band dove deep into their roots, bringing the organicity and soul of Mali to Seattle.


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